Alan DerKazarian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
(Slight typo in the byline in the .puz file, unless the constructor has stopped capitalizing the K.) This is Alan’s first published themeless, and it’s got some neat stuff in it. Like that EGG MCMUFFIN, PRIDE PARADE, I’M IMPRESSED, SORE SPOT, SOLANGE, UNITED FRONT, and LANGUOR (I love those Latinate nouns ending in -or, with extra credit for the U). EL DUQUE, NORMA RAE, and ROUGH IT are in the second tier, also good.
On the duller side, we’ve got SEMIARID, SUCRES, BIT/SEC, roll-your-own FUELERS and REARER, HIREES, and AREOLAR.
Five more things:
- 29a. [London or Manchester], WRITER. Tricky clue. I cannot think of a writer named Manchester other than songwriter Melissa Manchester. I presume the intended London is Jack.
- In the “Who in the world…?” category, we have 31a. [Charles of “Hill Street Blues”], HAID and 48d. [Country music’s Mike ___] ELI. I had assumed that the Eli Young Band was led by someone named Eli Young, but no, it’s Mike Eli and James Young. Never did watch much of HSB.
- 24d. [Annual June celebration], PRIDE PARADE. Some cities have their pride events in July or other months, but in general, the biggest pride festivities in the U.S. do take place in June.
- 11d. [2/2, in music], CUT TIME. Not a musical term I knew.
- 27d. [Stuck-up sort], PRISS. I think the clue’s wrong. That clue works for PRIG. A PRISS is more fussy, old-fashioned, anal-retentive.
Looking at PRISS (which most dictionaries don’t include—presumably it’s used here as a back-formation from prissy), I’m wishing the area where PRIMA HAID BITSEC are crossing HIREES and PRISS had been reworked. CRIME WRITES crossing AREOLES and actor Darren CRISS (he’s in the upcoming season of American Crime Story, playing Gianni Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan) could work, but crossing actor HAID with CRISS is patently unfair. Really don’t care for the HAID/BITSEC combo, though.
3.5 stars from me. Here’s Solange to play us out.
Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Weld Done!” — pannonica’s write-up
Autological title. In addition to describing the theme conceit, it also demonstrates it. And that is two-word phrases in which a /d/ sound at the beginning of the second is copied and suffixed to the first. Respelling as necessary.
- 22a. [Sock hops that are really hopping?] TOAD DANCES (toe dance).
- 24a. [Clone of a kernel?] SEED DOUBLE (see double).
- 40a. [“The skin of an animal, especially when tanned”?] HIDE DEFINITION (high (or hi-) definition).
- 54a. [Snowdrift?] COLD DEPOSIT (coal deposit).
- 64a. [Feature of a Renaissance Faire costumer’s manual?] BARD DIAGRAM (bar diagram).
- 79a. [Roughly 15 feet by 6 feet by 5 feet, for the Focus?] FORD DIMENSIONS (four dimensions).
- 98a. [Period when honeyed drinks were popular?] MEAD DECADE (“Me” Decade).
- 101a. [Art gallery owner, on occasion?] NUDE DEALER (New Dealer). As in, a proponent of FDR’s policies.
So: well done?
- 61d [Swift works] SATIRES, 105a [Swift specialty] SATIRE.
- 33d [Parapsychology powers] PSI. Seems dupey, since it’s probably derived by shortening and alteration from ‘psychic’.
- 53a [Singers Maggie and Patsy] CLINES. 5a [It’s inclined to move up and down] RAMP. Not a duplication, but I wanted to pair these anyway.
- 26a [Elementary curriculum] THREE R’S. For reading, writing, arithmetic. Spellin’, not so much?
- 87a [Carmine’s cousin] CERISE. Obviously red hues, but! apparently there is Ever After High: per Wikipedia, it’s “a fashion doll franchise released by Mattel in July 2013. It is a companion line to the Monster High dolls. However, in this line the characters are based upon characters from fairy tales and fantasy stories instead of monsters. As with Monster High and Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, the line varies in different countries and varies in languages. It has spawned a web series, a film, and two book series.” And in this franchise among the “rebel” characters (those “students [who] do not agree with their destinies and want their own destiny”) is CERISE Hood (Red Ringing Hood’s daughter) and she has a pet dire wolf named Carmine. Going to take a shower now.
Alan DerKazarian’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am not too familiar with this constructor, but he is pulling a double today, as the NYT puzzle is his as well! Unlike that one, this LAT Saturday challenge actually has kind of a theme, although it seems to be just slogans, unless I am missing something very clever. Here are the longer entries:
- 20A [’60s counterculture slogan] MAKE LOVE NOT WAR
- 25A [Cry of dominance] WHO’S YOUR DADDY!
- 45A [20-mile annual Boston-area fundraiser sponsored by Project Bread] WALK FOR HUNGER – This is obscure, and thus why this is a Saturday puzzle. I assume it may be even more obscure for people in LA, although no one is “from” there!
- 51A [Excuse for rowdy behavior] BOYS WILL BE BOYS
Maybe the longer theme-type entries is what made this play a little easier than a normal themeless grid. Should we include the 15-letter entry at 7D as well? LIVES OFF THE LAND crosses all of the other longer entries, which in itself is a feat of construction. But it hits well on the fun meter, and that is what matters! 4.1 stars.
A few more things:
- 14A [Former Sony brand] AIWA – I remember this brand. They made audio equipment. High-end stuff, if I recall correctly. It does look like they are pretty much defunct.
- 18A [Mail-order outlet for outdoorsy types] ORVIS – This is slightly obscure. Maybe because I am NOT an “outdoorsy type.”
- 61A [Merci, across the border] DANKE – Across the German border. Am I missing diacritical marks in my spelling?
- 4D [Hindu god with the head of an elephant] GANESHA – I thought the god was named Ganesh? Is it either?
- 25D [Area of expertise] WHEELHOUSE – This puzzle was “in my wheelhouse!”
- 36D [“Foucault’s Pendulum” author] ECO – The late Umberto Eco was/is a staple in crosswords with that name. I should read one of his books just for that reason!
Sadly, today I have to attend the viewing of one my cousins. Only 52 years old, she succumbed to complications from sarcoidosis. It will not be a fun day.
Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
Yes, that does say 35 minutes for this one. I wasn’t necessarily rushing, partly because I was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning, and partly because I was so stumped in areas of this puzzle I was literally not filling anything in for long stretches of time! But sometimes these difficult puzzles are so hard they literally make my angry, but that is not the case with this one. I felt … challenged, but in a way that I wanted to finish! And finish I did, after a mini-eternity. Not that I didn’t expect this when I saw Frank’s byline! You will see a couple of errors in the iPad image (which, now that I think of it, can be my excuse for a slow solving time: typing on an iPad is slower!), but after I checked what was wrong the puzzle sailed smoothly for about 15 seconds, then I was severely stuck in the NW corner. 2D [Cry that might precede a spill] NO HANDS! is a really, really good clue! If you are like me, solving this one brought a wry smile to your face! Kudos to Frank again for another joyfully agonizing puzzle! 4.7 stars today.
A few mentions:
- 19A [“We create music” sloganeer] ASCAP – You knew this was some acronym. This one stands for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. It helps protect musicians copyrights.
- 26A [USMA grad in Omar Bradley’s class] DDE – There is an indication of an abbreviation here, but I still thought this might be Robert E. LEE! I think they may have graduated like 75 years apart! (I looked it up; they were actually 86 years apart!!)
- 56A [The multinational “Seven Sisters,” in the ’60s] OIL CARTEL – OPEC has a lot of the power now, and the seven companies in this group are now parts of only 3 or 4 mega-companies.
- 61A [Made like some dimmer switches] METAL-CLAD – When I think of something as “metal-clad,” it is not a dimmer switch. Maybe it’s just me!
- 11D [One of the Leeward Antilles] BONAIRE – I think of the ABC islands, but the Leeward Antilles include some Venezuelan islands also.
- 22D [State with the highest % of land held by the Forest Service] IDA. – I guess the “%” is an abbreviation indicator! I thought for sure this was FLA, with the Everglades being so big. Great piece of trivia!
- 29D [ __ candy] EAR – “Eye candy” is used more, I feel, but I knew Frank wouldn’t use EYE in here twice! (See 42D)
It is snowing as I type this. When is spring coming??